Physical Activity and Academic Performance : Genetic and Environmental Associations
Aaltonen, S., Latvala, A., Jelenkovic, A., Rose, R. J., Kujala, U. M., Kaprio, J., & Silventoinen, K. (2020). Physical Activity and Academic Performance : Genetic and Environmental Associations. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 52(2), 381-390. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002124
Published inMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
© 2019 by the American College of Sports Medicine
Introduction. Physical activity and academic performance are believed to be associated. Though both traits are partially heritable, it remains unclear whether these traits also share a genetic and/or environmental background in common. We aimed to examine to what extent leisure-time physical activity and academic performance share genetic and environmental effects from early adolescence to young adulthood. Methods. Participants were Finnish twins (2543–2693 individuals/study wave) who reported their leisure-time physical activity at ages 12, 14, 17 and 24. Academic performance was assessed with teacher-reported grade point averages at ages 12 and 14 and by self-reported educational levels at ages 17 and 24. Bivariate quantitative genetic modeling at each age and between different ages was performed to decompose the trait correlation between academic performance and physical activity into genetic and environmental components. Results. The trait correlations between leisure-time physical activity and academic performance were positive, but modest at most (rtrait=0.08–0.22 in males, and 0.07–0.18 in females). The genetic correlations between leisure-time physical activity and academic performance were higher than the trait correlations (rA=0.17–0.43 in males, and 0.15–0.25 in females). Common genetic influences explained 43–100% of the trait correlations. Environmental influences shared by co-twins between leisure-time physical activity and academic performance were also correlated (rC=0.27–0.54 in males, and 0.21–0.69 in females) explaining 41–100% of the trait correlations. Unique environmental influences were correlated only in females (rE=0.10–0.15). Conclusion. Both common genetic background and shared family environment (i.e., familial background) partially account for the associations observed between leisure-time physical activity and academic performance. However, the estimates vary in magnitude by age. ...
PublisherLippincott Williams & Wilkins
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- Liikuntatieteiden tiedekunta 
Related funder(s)Ministry of Education and Culture
Additional information about fundingThe research work has been supported by the Academy of Finland (grant 266592 to S.A., A.J. and K.S., grant 277209 to A.L. and grants 100499, 205585, 141054, 265240, 263278 and 264146 to J.K.), the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (to S.A., U.M.K. and K.S.), the Juho Vainio Foundation (to S.A., U.M.K. and K.S.), and the Finnish Cultural Foundation (to S.A.). Data collection of the FinnTwin12 study has also been supported by the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grants AA-12502, AA-00145 and AA-09203 to R.J.R.). ...
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